Innovations in Online Learning: making learning visible at BrisbaneSDE

At the Brisbane School of Distance Education we pride ourselves on collaboratively problem solving barriers to effective online teaching and learning. Feedback from teachers made clear the challenges of seeing each student’s learning during online lessons. With this problem of practice identified, our school community set out to learn new ways of making online learning visible so that teachers could provide feedback to students; reflect on their instructional choices; and find opportunities for students to work together. As a result of this reflection, three initiatives to support the exploration and improvement of visible learning pedagogies were implemented in 2020: teacher action research; videos of practice; and faculty sharing showcases.

Teacher action research invites teachers to investigate their practice with their students. With a focus on specific strategies to make learning visible, a team of teachers has begun systematically measuring how classroom strategies prompt students to evidence their learning. The intention behind the project is for tried and true practices to be better understood and then shared so that the school community can improve teaching and build teacher confidence. Projects in 2020 are investigating the use of smart phone applications to facilitate blended learning; formative assessment strategies in Education Perfect; and spaced checkpoints in One Note Class Notebook, to name but a few.

To further support our whole-school focus on seeing student learning, videos of practice are being produced to capture and share effective teaching strategies that make learning visible. Using video capture software,teachers are recording examples of strategies in use before turning them into short vignettes that are made available to all staff through our online pedagogical framework. The intention behind this initiative is to make informal professional learning accessible to teachers so that they can trial new practices and learn from their colleagues without significant disruption. The development of videos will continue across 2020 and will also be used to support the induction of new staff into our unique online school. Finally,faculty groups have created regular time and space for teachers to share their practice. Locally known as ‘sharing showcases’, teachers present examples of practice from their lessons that make online student learning visible. The aim of this initiative is to build online teaching capability along with teacher efficacy which will continue to grow our culture of professional collaboration and sharing.

The Brisbane School of Distance Education believes that teachers are best positioned to identify and solve their common problems of practice. By providing structured support, time and opportunity to improve and share, teachers are beginning to make online learning visible so that each student is provided with the feedback and differentiated instruction they need to succeed.